CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE - An encounter with a rabid animal can be fatal for an area resident's pet, as well as put a homeowner's family at risk, a county official said recently.

"The best way to avoid potential exposure to rabies is to vaccinate your dogs and cats," said Freeholder Jeff Pierson.

Residents should take precautions when around wild animals, particularly raccoons, she said. Rather than approach a wild animal, call your local animal control officer for assistance.

"Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and any animal bite should be taken seriously," said county Health Officer Kevin Thomas.

State law requires all dogs older than seven months to be licensed, and rabies vaccination is a requirement for licensing. Many municipalities have similar ordinances for cats.

Many municipalities hold free or low-cost rabies vaccination clinics and rabies. Upcoming clinics include:

Cape May, Cape May Point, West Cape May

March 7 from 4 to 5 p.m

West Cape May Public Works, 732 Broadway, West Cape May

Dennis Township

Jan. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Public Works, 571 Petersburg Road, Dennisville

Lower Township

April 8 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Public Works, 770 Seashore Road, Villas

Middle Township

Jan. 28 from 2 to 3 p.m., May 6 from 2 to 3 p.m., Sept. 23 from 2 to 3 p.m.

MLK Center, 207 West Main Street, Whitesboro

North Wildwood

March 18 from 1 to 2 p.m.

901 Atlantic Ave., North Wildwood

Ocean City

Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon

5th Street Firehouse, Ocean City

Sea Isle City

March 4 from 9  to 10 a.m.

Old Public School, 4501 Park Road, Sea Isle City

Stone Harbor

May 20 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Stone Harbor Fire House, 175 96th St., Stone Harbor

Upper Township

Jan 21 from 1 to 3 p.m., Feb. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Shore Veterinarians, 73 Hope Corson Road, Seaville

Woodbine

March 4 from 10 a.m. to noon

Woodbine Ambulance Building, Dehirsch Avenue, Woodbine

Middle Township Gazette reporter. Call me anytime you have news for the paper or the website. 609-365-6176